View from the enemy: Bournemouth fan on upsetting Manchester United, favourite players and prediction

It’s time for Bournemouth to host Manchester United in the Premier League, as they prepare to try do the double over the Reds for the first time in their history.

If you remember (you might not want to, which would be understandable), the last time the two sides met in the league. Bournemouth came away from Old Trafford with a 3-0 win at Old Trafford.

United had gone into the game just days after facing Chelsea and Erik ten Hag later explained that we were not in the right place mentally against the Cherries. They took advantage of that and they will want to do the same on Saturday.

Here’s our Q&A with Bournemouth fan Craig, whose work can be found at UTCIAD.

It has been a good season in the Premier League for Bournemouth. Do you expect your players to go into holiday mode?

Craig: “Iraola has been quite vocal that AFC Bournemouth will not go into holiday mode like we did last season once safety was secured. The performances such as that against Crystal Palace and the second half against Luton have been excellent (turning round a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3). I think Iraola wants to push higher up the table and wants to toy with Europe. That won’t happen nor do I want it to, just yet, as we will be too stretched without big investment but I hope we can push ourselves into the equation.”

After a shock 3-0 win at Old Trafford, do you think Bournemouth can cause another upset against United on Saturday?

Craig: “I hope so. That result at Old Trafford was one of the best performances, not just this season, from our Premier League years. It might be difficult to replicate that and I think Erik ten Hag will be savvy enough (although under pressure deservedly) to stop that happening again. But we have a good chance of causing an upset against a Manchester United side who have been peppered at the back this season.”

Who have been your best players this season?

Craig: “Antoine Semenyo, a signing from Bristol City in January 2023, has been outstanding. I wasn’t overly excited when we signed him as he blew hot and cold at Ashton Gate but under Iraola he has been a different class. Illia Zabarnyi is 21 years old and is already showing that he could be one of the best central defenders in the world. His tackle in the recent game against Palace taking the ball from Erebechi Eze with such ease when most defenders would have committed a foul which would have resulted in a red was unbelievable. And then there is Dom Solanke. And there’s a reason big clubs want him. He does more than just score. He drops back, creates things for others and is unselfish in finishing.”

What are Bournemouth’s strengths and weaknesses?

Craig: “Our midfield is without a doubt very good. Kluivert and Billing compliment Solanke well, Christie can play deeper but also as an attacking midfielder if Tavernier is not fit to play with Semenyo on the other side but we do have Sinnisterra there as well. And then we have Lewis Cook and young highly rated prodigy Alex Scott. Our weakness has been Neto recently. He seems to be shaky coming off the line this season although I do question if letting his defence do the hard work and not coming for the ball is what he has been directed.”

What do you think of Manchester United a) the club; b) the team; c) the manager; d) the fans? 

Craig: “Manchester United should be competing for the title, full stop. The fact you aren’t is the fault of terrible ownership and poor management. We have had good ownership in terrible situations at times throughout our history. United have great infrastructure, a solid crop of players coming through but horrendously run. Sir Jim Radcliffe has to put this right. The United fans have every right to feel aggrieved.”

Favourite memory in the top flight?

Craig: “The win at Old Trafford is up there but the greatest memory has to be the 4-3 win against Liverpool in 2016. The game was brilliant, the fight back was valiant and the joy at the end if it could be bottled and sold is something all fans would want. From 3-1 down, 15 minutes to go, to winning.”

Tell us about your manager Andoni Iraola?

Craig: “Iraola joined us from Rayo Vallecano in the summer. Charismatic and hard working, his introduction to English football was slow to get going. However adapting from a total control style to something which is a bit more direct has shown what a good manager he is. I was gutted we sacked Gary O’Neil but I have to admit, despite my early reservations, I was wrong and he’s done a brilliant job.”

All-time Bournemouth hero and why?

Craig: “I have two. Mark Pugh. Signed for peanuts from Hereford United and went through the leagues with the club including the first goal in the Bolton win which sealed promotion. The other is Steve Fletcher. A cult hero who scored a goal which in my opinion is why we are even a club at all.”

Prediction for Saturday?

Craig: “I’m optimistic we can win and do the double but I think ten Hag will learn from the mistakes and a 1-1 draw is more probable.”

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